Tiny Dancer

This quote from my friend and author KJ Ramsey kicked me square in my elastic waistband, comfy pants.

unless peace begins within my very breath + bones, it might just be performance.

Gah. I feel attacked. Well, not really attacked, but uncovered. Revealed. The phrase has bubbled around in my guts for a couple of days.

Why?

Why is it dwelling and gurgling in my soul?

Truth be told y’all, it’s conviction. Conviction is easily defined as declaration/pronouncement of guilt, sentence, judgment. {And if you’ve been hanging around here long enough, y’all know that I come from a long line of guilt riddled/flinging women.}

But why did this particular quote convict me so?

Because. It. Is. ME!!

I’m in a pretty strange season of deconstructing, uncovering and discovering Self. It seems somewhat silly, at 53, that I wouldn’t really know Self; but I am learning and unlearning more every day. The little revelation nugget shared by KJ really cut me to the marrow.

Has my life been a performance?

Have I learned how to behave based on the cues from “directors” in my life?

Have I acted in a way just to please an “audience”?

The short answer to the above questions is yes. But y’all know I can’t just give a short answer.

As the daughter of big time people, in a small, small town; there is an element of constant performance.

Don’t behave in a way that disgraces the name.

Be a good girl.

Smile and always be gracious.

I was that girl for a little while… My mom would tell a particular story of my childhood, over and over. I don’t recall my age but it was my very first dance recital. I had practiced and practiced and felt confident in my steps. When the little dance number was finished, every other child ran off stage. (Allegedly), I remained steadfast and blew kisses to the roaring applause of the crowd.

The birth of the performer.

I used to think she retold the story because she thought it adorable. As I grew older, I realized it was mostly an accusation, a spotlight on my flair for being dramatic or need to be the center of attention.

Ironically, I truly dislike being the center of attention. My exterior is somewhat a misnomer. It would appear that I like to be seen, but truth be told, it’s armor. (And a scoop of rebellion.) People are quick to make assumptions about you based on outward appearances. For some, the exterior is porcupine-esque. If you look dangerous, people will not approach. It’s safety. It’s protection.

For years, I was the shape-shifter. If I was more like “this”, So-and-So would approve of me. If I was more like “that”, What’s-Their-Name would love me more. Shape-shifting is performance. It isn’t authentic. Neither is people-pleasing. And it was pretty good at that as well. But you know who wasn’t pleased? Me.

I was a pretty good phony. Making it all look like life was ok. While I quietly recoiled and lost Self. It took decades for me to realize that I wasn’t happy and neither were the people around me. It was up to me to stop performing and seek Peace.

I had no clue what Peace looked like. I still struggle with it. The need to be valued and seen and blow kisses to an adoring audience simmers beneath the surface. The need to strive and please still bubbles up occasionally. The sure fire way to quiet that urge is Truth.

Truth speaks and reminds us our value is non-negotiable. To others, it simply is or it isn’t. Our performance does not increase our value. “But if I do this, they will love me more”. Nope. If love and acceptance is performance based, it isn’t genuine. No act of service, gift, performance will tip the value scale. It just teaches others how to treat you.

The Critic will watch for your misstep, that’s a given. But, the Fan will applaud when you rise up. They will truly roar with adoration for being authentically, albeit clumsily, Self.

I am an eternal student. I will always seek new and interesting pathways. I will always ruminate on the ways of old and uncover their meaning. I will always learn a way to dance through my chronic life. Even when the physical body is unwilling; my soul still will tap dance.

Performance or Peace?

Excuse me while I just shuffle-ball-change my way, exit stage left.

I choose Peace

Mary Lee’s School of Dance circa 1970-something

Birthday

Dear Big Brother,

Today, you would have been 58 and in a few short weeks, I’ll be 50… You could see 50 so closely the day you left this world, were you excited about it?

This is such a weird journey on my own. Yes, I have lots of people in my circle, many of the names and faces you would remember. Our family-circle has shifted and changed and it still isn’t right without you here. Even though we not super involved in each others day-to-day life; I always had the promise of you. I always knew you were at the other end of an email or phone call. And now, now I can’t help but feel a little lost.

So in true Little Sister fashion, Big Brother, I have a few questions…

Is there Bingo in heaven, if not, I bet Mom is super pissed

Has Dad made peace with God yet?

Is Grandma Hedges still gloating over all the times she gave me the wrong ingredients to a recipe, so I’d fail and she would be needed to make it right?

Is Uncle Stan still playing the piano and telling bad jokes?

Did DiAnn make in the gate ok? She probably gave Saint Peter a rough time

I don’t remember Grandma Blanchard, does she remember me?

Does Jesus still do the water into wine trick? Golly, I hope so

Uncle Hink still has a harem, doesn’t he?

Will you save a seat for me, next to you? I’ve got a lot of shit yet to do here and lots of people to annoy.

Miss you much.

XOXOXO,

Me ❤️

p.s. I still haven’t forgiven you for locking me in the dryer, but we’ll hash that out when I get there